On Saturday I woke up nice and early to a crisp Spring air. It was what one might call the perfect morning for a little trip into the mountains – to go biking!! Now, as far as mountainbiking goes, I still consider myself, for lack of a better word, a noob. This would be the second time I was tackling a MTB track, after delving in head first to a delightful experience on the single track at Meerendal Wine Estate, in the Durbanville Hills area, around two months ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it and needless to say I was stoked to be invited out again (I have been joining the girlfriend’s colleagues on their “work-sanctioned outings”).
We arrived at the parking lot to Jonkershoek Nature Reserve shortly before 9am, after following Merriman street in Stellenbosch all the way up to the gates. The sun was already beating down hard, ushering in the brilliant day that was to come. After a quick unloading of our bikes and a little meet and greet we were on our way. A quick stop at the gates to pay our obligatory R25 and then onto the track. Unlike the track I had encountered previously at Meerendal, which is designed specifically for biking (and as such is a rather narrow pursuit), the track we followed in the reserve is wider and designed for cars to navigate – more commonly known as jeep tracks – but provided a stimulating ride nonetheless.
The short course that we rode is approximately 6.4km, but as the terrain is irregular and provides some nice climbs as well as some exhilirating downhills, with two bridge crossings and one shallow-water crossing, it feels a bit longer than a mere 6 and a half kilos.
The track starts off fairly flat in a wooded area in the reserve and the shade provided a rather picturesque setting before we headed out into the more harsh shrubbery, itself eye-catching in its own way. From there on out its a wide stretch of dusty fun in the sun, with plenty of riders both outgoing and returning, so it helps to keep an eye out from time as you never know what lies around the next corner. The beginner course we chose was fairly simple but had its own little challenges. At one point we clocked just under 50km/hr on the last downhill, which can be unnerving if you consider that if you came off your bike at that speed it would not be too much fun!
Towards the end of the ride you come to a viewing point where you can take in the awesome sight of the dam wall – the existence of which comes as a surprise, as prior to that there’s no point on the ride where you even know there’s a dam wall to speak of… It’s a good spot to stop off and take pics too (although that can be said of much of the course, you’ll be snapping pics with your eyes from every angle). Along the course there are also various stop-off points and hikes and at the start of the hike that leads to the waterfalls there were plenty of vehicles so it is obviously a popular attraction (I hope to go check it out sometime soon so that we can take it up on TGA for everyone to enjoy too).
Overall the track at Jonkershoek provides an excellent day trip and exercise option that will leave your exercise requirements feeling fulfilled without tiring you out too much and allow you to take in the sights of the valleys and crags from behind a set of handlebars. There’s a little restaurant with picnic tables under large shaded areas that beckons you in after a good day’s ride too – the banana power smoothie with cocoa beans is a treat! Get on it!
by ‘Baywatch’ Bergemann